Keeping your bones healthy is critical to your longevity, health, comfort, and quality of life. Osteoporosis affects over 200 million people and is characterized by the deterioration of bone structure and decreased bone mass. As a result, your bones become weak, brittle and fragile – so much so, that small stresses or falls (even as small as coughing) – can cause a bone fracture.
Symptoms of osteoporosis include stooped posture, loss of height and back or neck pain. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to prevent or lower your risk of developing this disease.
What we do in our daily lives has a huge impact on our long-term health. The sooner you start incorporating osteoporosis prevention tactics into your daily regimen, the better. Here are some ways to prevent osteoporosis naturally.
Eat a Nutritious Diet
A healthy, balanced diet is beneficial for your overall mental and physical health and can help prevent chronic illnesses and osteoporosis.
Specific to osteoporosis prevention, there are some nutritional needs you will want to fulfill:
- Calcium. This mineral is responsible for your skeletal structure and durability. You want to make sure you’re reaching your daily recommended calcium intake. For men and women, this is between 1,000 - 1,200 mg depending on your age. Eating calcium-rich foods, such as dark green leafy vegetables, like broccoli, spinach or kale, dairy products, orange juice and almonds.
- Vitamin D. While calcium is often seen as the star of the show when it comes to bone health, vitamin D helps you absorb calcium and enables your body to use it to strengthen your bones. Supplements, sun exposure and vitamin-D fortified foods can help you meet your daily requirement.
- Protein. Eating a protein-rich diet can help increase bone mineral density. The Daily recommended protein intake is .4 grams per pound of body weight. High-protein foods include lean meats, eggs, nuts and cottage cheese, to name a few.
Cut Out Unhealthy Habits
Smoking and heavy alcohol consumption are contributors to higher osteoporosis risk. Both of these have been proven to weaken your bone density and strength.
To lower the likelihood of developing osteoporosis, minimize how much you consume tobacco or alcohol products, or eliminate them altogether.
Exercising regularly is also great for your mental and physical health – and can help increase bone density, maintain healthy body weight and build musculoskeletal strength, which in turn, combats osteoporosis.
Your exercise regimen should include a mix of weight-bearing exercises and resistance training.
- High-impact weight-bearing exercises: Walking, dancing, jogging, hiking, running and jumping rope are all ideal high-impact exercises that can benefit both your skeletal and cardiovascular health.
- Low-impact weight-bearing exercises: Using the elliptical or stair-stepping machines or brisk walks on a treadmill or outside are great options if you can’t do high-impact exercises.
- Resistance (strength) training: Bodyweight exercises, lifting weights, or using machines, water or resistance bands can help you improve and preserve your musculoskeletal health.
Risks Factors for Osteoporosis
There are certain factors that contribute to an increased risk of developing osteoporosis – women over the age of 50 have the highest likelihood. You may also have a higher risk if you:
- Consume a low-nutrition diet
- Live a sedentary lifestyle
- Are of European or Asian descent
- Have a family history of osteoporosis
- Regularly consume tobacco or alcohol
Certain illnesses, like lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, breast or prostate cancer, diabetes, thyroid issues and more can also increase your risk of developing osteoporosis.
If left untreated, osteoporosis can cause pain, mobility limitations and frequent bone fractures that can lead to the need for serious surgeries, like hip replacements.
Take a Step Toward Osteoporosis Prevention
In some cases, osteoporosis is preventable. You will want to talk to your healthcare provider about ways you can minimize your risk.
If you do have osteoporosis – while it isn’t curable – there are thankfully things you can do to prevent further bone loss and slow its progression. Speak with a spinal health expert that specializes in osteoporosis, like Citrus Spine Institute, to create a tailored osteoporosis treatment plan.